Physlets run in a Java-enabled browser, except Chrome, on the latest Windows & Mac operating systems. If Physlets do not run, click here for help updating Java & setting Java security.

Chapter 25: Electric Potential

In mechanics there were two basic ways to approach problems, from the point of view of forces or energy. The same is true in electrostatics, but instead of forces and potential energy, we generally use electric fields (force/charge) and electric potentials (potential energy/charge). As before, the change in a potential energy is the negative of the work required to move an object (in this case a charged object). Instead of an electric field (a vector), we talk about the electric potential (a scalar). The electric potential is measured in Volts and, as with potential energy, the point of zero electric potential is arbitrary. Common conventions are to call Earth (and any conductors connected to Earth) zero Volts or to set the zero of electric potential at a distance very far away (infinity) from the charge distribution.

Table of Contents




Electromagnetism TOC

Overview TOC

The OSP Network:
Open Source Physics - Tracker - EJS Modeling
Physlet Physics
Physlet Quantum Physics